Monday, March 28, 2016

Controversial Color

Spitfire XVI SL721/JM-R, 1946


Two things pop to mind when viewing these pictures - first the quality is crap. I tried white balance and extra lighting, but the basic color is just too close to my photo booth. Maybe someday I'll try to make these better...

Second, the actual color of the aircraft. From what I've been able to find online, the color could be in a range from Sky Blue (being very light) to a darker medium blue. One reference indicated quite confidently that it was PRU Blue mixed 50/50 with White.

The Subject


This is Air Chief Marshal James Robb's hack and for some reason he chose a light blue color. What color this truly is supposed to be is a bit of guess work, but I had the decals and decided to make it.


The Model


Another of the Heller XVI kits from my Spring 2016 batch build. This one has the shading and I lightly sprayed the light blue until I had the coverage I wanted. What is different with this kit, and in hindsight I wish I'd used acrylics, is that I used an enamel because I had a light blue that looked good. All the others where too gray or too dark or too light. Ultimately I used my old jar of Testors Light Blue in the small square bottle. Likely because I'm rusty when using enamels it did not go down as well as I wanted, ultimately having a bit of an orange-peel texture. Instead of ditching the model I went ahead and finished it.


Decals are by Lifelike Decals (sheet 72-006) and went down quite readily using Daco medium setting solution on top of Future/Kleer varnish. I finished with Micro Scale's Satin varnish to seal it all in and knock the sheen down a bit.

Summary


Ultimately the blue looks a bit too saturated. If I were to do this one again I'd use acrylics and I'd lighten the light blue by at least 25% white, maybe more. Of course I had fun with it, albeit I'm still not sold on pre-shading. My wife loves the color, so it'll remain on my shelf and likely I'll not redo it.


Thanks for looking...


Friday, March 18, 2016

Back to the future

Spitfire XVI SL614/6D-A, 631 Squadron RAF, Llanbedr, 1948


The Subject


SL614 was delivered in August 1945 to the RAF and assigned to 631 Squadron. It was operated by them until 1949 when it collided with another aircraft and was destroyed.

A number of Spitfire XVI (later listed as LF.16) were repainted post war to Aluminum as they went through the depots, reverting to the schemes worn pre-war. This was actually a paint, not simply stripping of the aircraft to natural metal as the RAF preferred their aircraft painted to protect them from the effects of corrosion prevalent on an island nation. This model simply is representative of that scheme.


The Model


This is the classic Heller Spitfire XVI kit dating originally from 1972, however my boxing is from the 1980's. The detail is good, it has a great cockpit for this scale and unlike many contemporary models the wheel wells are properly boxed in. It does suffer from raised panel lines and other details, but there are good arguments for this being more accurate on a Spitfire given how it was manufactured with lapped joints. It's accurate enough, but needs one area corrected to make it "look right": that are the underwing radiators. They are deeper and seem to represent the larger Griffon series Spitfire radiators, not a Merlin engined one. The fix is very simple, take a hobby saw that is about 0.5 mm wide and cut each radiator off, then glue them right back on and clean up the resulting seam.


As mentioned on earlier blogs, I used this kit to test a few new-to-me techniques. Firstly, I tried a new primer, Rust-Oleum white plastic primer. It ruined the surface detail but I salvaged it best I could. Secondly I tried some new fillers which worked well enough. Thirdly I tried pre-shading since this overall Aluminum finish would be sort of flat due to the monochrome nature. The pre-shading certainly gave it depth and it got some positive comments from both my wife and friends. Lastly, I did all my painting (other than primer) using very thinned Tamiya acrylics. Normally I thin about 1:1 using their X-20A thinner, but this time I tried doubling the thinner to a 2:1 ratio and misting the coats on to slowly build up the XF-16 Flat Aluminum paint until the pre-shading blended in. It felt a bit laborious as I was standing at my paint booth for nearly an hour misting coats which dried quite quickly. Then I'd put it down and come back the next day to mist on a few more coats until it "looked right".

Decals are by XtraDecal, sheet X72182. They didn't respond to Micro-Set or -Set, so I shifted to Daco Soft; no luck there. However Daco Medium got them to lay down perfectly. I then misted a coat of Micro-Coat Satin to seal it all in and give it a proper sheen.


Summary


These kits are an easy way to keep modeling fun, being an easy kit with plenty of schemes and decals out there to dress it up. Yes, there are better kits of the Spitfire XVI but they typically cannot be found for $2 at shows!

Thanks for looking...